Athens Hadrian Library

Location: Monastiraki

The Library of Hadrian was an impressive monument in ancient Athens. Only a few remains have survived to this day, though.
It is located outside the metro station of Monastiraki and on the northern side of the Acropolis. This library was constructed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 132 AD and the building followed a typical Roman Forum architectural style.

It had only one entrance, a high surrounding wall at its long sides and an inner courtyard with a central pool and garden surrounded by marble columns. At the eastern end of the collonade, there was a series of rooms that constituted the actual library, where papyrus books were stored. These rooms also served as lecture halls and reading rooms.

The library was seriously damaged during the Herulian invasion of 267 AD and was repaired in 407-412 AD. In the Byzantine times, three Christian churches were built at that site, whose remains have partly survived.


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More information about the Library of Hadrian

The Library of Hadrian was the emperor's "payback" to the neighboring Roman Agora, which was a construction of Caesar and Augustus. In order to build the library, around 24 blocks had to be demolished.

Architecturally, the library was rectangular in shape, measuring 119 meters long and 89 meters wide.
On the north and south sides there were three platforms each - one rectangular and two semi-circular.
The eastern side housed the rooms with the scrolls and texts, as well as the amphitheaters.
The most impressive facade of the building seems to have been the western one. This is where the entrance to the complex was located. The façade was made of Penteli marble. In the middle of it, there was the entrance propylon with four columns of Corinthian style made of Phrygian marble, while to the left and right of the propylon, there were 7 more columns of Corinthian style made of Karystos marble.

Inside the complex laid a courtyard that had been transformed into a garden with a peristyle of 100 columns. From the garden, one could see a magnificent temple (Pantheon) that Hadrian had erected and dedicated to the worship of all the gods.

The Library suffered considerable damage in 267 AD due to the disastrous raid of the Heruli. It was probably repaired by the vice-regent of Illyrians, Herculius (407-412 AD).

In the 12th century AD, a small Christian church dedicated to Archangel Michael was built by the Chalkokondylis family.
The temple was demolished in 1843, but it is preserved on the Roman wall of the facade.

How to get there

There are many ways to reach the Library of Hadrian from any location in Athens.

Private transfers: We recommend using an online pre-booked transfer service, which provides transfer by taxi, minibus, or private VIP car and arranging a pickup directly from the port, airport, or your hotel. Alternatively, there’s the option of arranging a pickup by a local driver directly at the following numbers: (0030) 18288, (0030) 18222, (0030) 18180. You can also book your taxi online.

On foot: As the Library of Hadrian is located in a central area of Athens, it can be easily reached on foot from Syntagma Square in less than 15 minutes.

By metro: The closest metro station is Monastiraki (Green Line and Blue Line). Get a map of the metro here.

By bus/trolleybus: The closest bus stop is “Monastiraki”. Note that the Library of Hadrian is located within a 3-minute walking distance from the bus stop. Check the routes and the official timetables on OASA Telematics.



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